Calling the over one billion hungry people in the world “our tragic achievement in these modern days”, FAO Director-General, Jacques Diouf, stressed the need to produce food where the poor and hun- gry live and to boost agricultural investment in these regions – World Summit on Food Security, Rome, 16 – 18 November 2009. ( www.fao.org/wsfs/world-summit/en/ )
Developing countries facing growing challenges around the era- dication of poverty and food insecurity need the development, economic and policy tools required to grow their agricultural pro- duction and productivity.
For these countries investment in agriculture must be increased, because for the majority of poor countries a healthy agricultural sector is important to combat hunger and poverty and ensure over- all economic growth. Directly or indirectly, agriculture provides the livelihood for 70% of the world’s poor, and investment in this sector impacts on the population as a whole. The benefits of implemen- ting an effective food security programme cannot be under- estimated.
According to a 2006 Department of Agriculture report, approxima- tely 14 million households in South Africa were vulnerable to food insecurity, 2.2 million households were food insecure and 1.5 million children suffered from malnutrition.
In 2007 the Office of the Presidency released a report indicating that despite current interventions there are signs of increasing food insecurity in specific places, largely poverty nodes, in both rural and urban contexts. This is related to increasing unemployment, food price increases, HIV/AIDS, poor-quality diets, adverse environmen- tal conditions and poverty in general.
While access to sufficient food and water is enshrined by our Constitution, there is still no coordinated implementation plan to ensure that this right is reali- sed. In order to address food security, we need to understand what that means. Food security exists:
“when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” – FAO, 1996. Cence, a community development organisation focusing on skills development, offers a variety of programmes aimed at addressing the need for food security in communities and rural communities in particular. Our skills development solutions aimed at addressing food security include:
- Agri-Entrepreneur: A 10-month training programme provi- ding basic farming and entrepreneurial skills development;
- Nursery Co-operative: A 10-month training programme providing basic propagation, plant management and entre- preneurial skills development;
- Small-scale farming skills: This includes a variety of short courses (ABET) that cover a number of topics related to small- scale farming, e.g. the sewing and management of specific crops, soil and environmental management, water and irrigation, etc.; and
- Nutritional Awareness: A variety short courses aimed at dif- ferent community groups namely schools, clinics, prisons and small-scale/homestead farmers.
Cence’s aim through the implementation of these programmes, is to develop community models aimed at creating sustainable liveli- hoods. We believe that by implementing a model of sustainable livelihoods, we can create opportunities that empower individuals to earn enough money to provide for basic amenities such as food, clothing and shelter. This enables people to lead a life of dignity in a sustainable manner.
Programmes can be adapted to suit community needs and the resources available.